The Talented Mr. Williams

Just as children sometimes need a helping hand, so do children's books. This week an in-demand screenwriter and a writing team pitched in to pull two kids' books across the Hollywood finish line. When APA's Steve Fisher first went out with U.K. author Alex Williams's debut novel, The Talent Thief(Macmillan U.K, Oct.), about six months ago, studios responded with the all-too-familiar "Come back with a take." So that's what Fisher did. After attaching Shawn Levy (director of the upcoming Night at the Museum with Ben Stiller), Fisher packaged Thief with scribes Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, the duo behind Aeon Flux and Crazy/Beautiful, to come up with a story for the screen. Clearly Universal liked what it heard—the project went straight to Universal president Donna Langley, who quickly took it off the table. Thief follows wealthy orphan siblings as they investigate who is stealing the talents from gifted kids attending a prestigious youth festival. The Universal deal gives name-dropping rights to Williams's lit agent at a particularly useful time—London's David Higham Associate's Georgina Ruffhead is on submission to U.S. publishers with The Talent Thief now. Fisher coagented with Higham's Gemma Hirst.

Gina Gershon's Campy Adventure

Gina Gershon—children's book author? If her post-Showgirls career has proved anything, it's her knack for popping up in truly unexpected places. That was Gershon playing the frisky Orthodox dry cleaner with her sights set on Larry in one of Curb Your Enthusiasm's more hilarious episodes, and alert hipsters know that's her playing the Jew's harp on the new Scissor Sisters' CD. So why not a kids' book about a summer camp secretly run by aliens who turn campers into werewolves, vampires and mummies? At press time, DreamWorks was in negotiation for rights to Gershon's publishing debut, Camp Creepy Time(written with brother Dann). Creepy won't be out from Putnam Young Readers until next May, but it already has at least one A-list fan: Richard LaGravenese, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of The Fisher King, The Horse Whisperer and The Bridges of Madison County, is attached to adapt. Janklow & Nesbit's Luke Janklow and CAA's Sally Willcox rep Gershon.